Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
There is a photo slide show where we get a slight sneak-peak of some of the uniform (but sadly, no gym leotards as of yet).
Speaking of gold and silver, here is someone who has won medals of those colours. It's amazing what you find accidentally on YouTube. No, I don't know what the opening titles say either, they're too small and fade too fast. Sorry.
Don't forget to take part in the Australian Gymnastics Blog Olympics Project found here.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Anyway. She did a 'live blog' this morning, the transcript of which you can read here (P-Liddy pops up again) and there's an additional article which you can find here. She also did her final column which you can read here.
1. The team leo's will be green and gold!
2. She won't be doing the Amanar in Beijing but might go for her quad pirouette on floor
3. She likes chocolate and cheesecake - a girl after my own heart!
Don't forget to take part in the Australian Gymnastics Blog Olympics Project found here.
Monday, July 28, 2008
No time to dwell, dear hobbits, the team's departure is drawing nigh. Pressure? Fear? They certainly don't seem to be showing it. This training period has clearly been all about mixing fun with focus and the girls truly seem to be competently balancing business with pleasure. This week they've been partying, shooting, chatting, celebrating, laughing and farewelling.
Gymnastics Australia's latest news update brings interesting relevations. In bad news, Emma Dennis is officially out of the reserve position with injury, replaced with Mel J, but hopefully this will not deter from staying on and working towards Worlds (among other international events) in 2009. In better news, the rest of the girls are looking healthy and positive and raring for their Olympic debut.
The team has had more visitors to camp, including Olympic shooting gold medallist Suzy Balogh (whose medal is seen in the photo above, I bet Dasha can't wait to get hold of one for herself!) who autographed a clay target for each girl, GA president Ken Williamson, and Athens gymnastics reps Karen Nguyen, Monette Russo, Stephanie Moorhouse and Melissa Munro.
They also had their farewell dinner, with their efforts being celebrated by their families and support team.
I simply must bring attention to the double-page spread of Ashleigh B from Saturday's Herald Sun. The photo used to promote it was gorgeous (sadly my camera-phone doesn't do it justice) and she came across as a well-balanced and mature competitor. What an addition to her family's scrapbook!
Don't forget to take part in the Australian Gymnastics Blog Olympics Project, described in the post below.
I am calling upon the fans, coaches, gymnasts and gymfamilies that read this little corner of interwebbery to participate in a project to support our Olympic gymnastics team.
I am trying to put together a picture entry to post here by Friday 8/8 (that's next Friday, the day of the Olympic opening ceremony) as our WAG team prepares to compete on the 10th. This entry will hopefully get seen by the competitors during their time in the Olympic village as I understand some coaches and officials who have contact with the team read this blog. Word of the project should eventually get to the girls though I hope to upload it and send it in a "Hero Message" to the team as well. So they will get it in the end :)
WHAT IS IT? One big entry consisting of a series of photos of you guys (and me)! It's easy to do and anyone can take part.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? Simple. Take a photo of either just you or you-and-your-family-or-friends holding a sign with big smiles, as well as any other Aussie memorabilia (such as green-and-gold or a flag) if you wish.
WHAT KIND OF SIGN? It can be on a t-shirt, it can be on an A4 piece of paper, it can be on a poster with drawings, it can be drawn in the sand, it can be on a cloth banner, you could spell it with your bodies! Anything, so long as the message is visible!
WHAT DOES THIS SIGN HAVE TO SAY? This is the integral bit. It's the catchiest, most enthusiastic and most AUSSIE phrase ever to come out of the mind of a comedian and television host:
It's like Roy and HG's "Go You Good Thing!" but with a level added by reference to a coloured vehicle.
I couldn't think of a better message to send to our team in Beijing - we're behind you all the way so just go for it!
SO HOW WILL THEY GET IT?
This is important. Email a copy of the photo/s as an attachment or list its web location (a link to, say, a Photobucket url) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title "Fan Project". It would be great to know your name and what state you're from, however you do not have to give me your name with your photo if you wish to remain anonymous. I will then collate all the photos I receive and and post them in one big entry here. I will also put them in a collage of sorts to upload and send via Hero Messages. Photos may be re-sized for these purposes.
You must send your photos by 7pm on Wednesday, August 6th (next Wednesday). Any photos received later than this will, sadly, not be utilised.
Please consider taking part, I know the Australian gymnastics community is capable of big things when members put their minds to it!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
On the back of the Sports page is a little piece about Steve Waugh's visit to the AIS and the gym team, complete with a small digitally-altered photo of Ash (on the Melbourne Commonwealth Games podium) decked out in leotard a jauntily-positioned baggy green. Stylish, no?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Observe the highlighted part of the screencap (thanks to eagle-eyed anon. poster who brought it to my attention), though apologies for the poor quality:
We heard some sketchy details about the 'false alarm fire' at the AIS from Gymnastics Australia, but Olivia Vivian's latest blog entry lets us know a little bit more about what actually happened.
You also can't help but smile when she talks about how proud the team were at having Steve Waugh sit and talk with them (see photo in previous entry).
They depart for Beijing on August 1. I hope there are no more disasters!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Naazmi Johnston, our rhythmic gymnastics debutante, is featured in two articles, one here and one here.
Former gymnast Alex Croak who is going for gold with the diving team, talks about performance anxiety here.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Find biographies and 'Did You Know?'-style trivia nuggets of our gymnasts here
Actually "meet" some of the team by watching video interviews here (excuse any bad sound quality). They had these up a while ago featuring more Olympic hopefuls, mostly from the AIS (including Hollie Dykes and Melody Hernandez, whom they stupidly captioned as 'Melanie Jones') but now they've narrowed it down to just some of those who got selected to the team. Many of the questions are the same. Last time around, I thought Luke Wiwtowski's interview was hilarious.
Its a mere fortnight to go! Get your VCR's ready and put your armchair-commentary hats on!
Monday, July 21, 2008
In other news, the WAG team is getting ready to flyyyyyyyyyyyy with more inspirational discussion sessions, this time from revered cricketer Steve Waugh and Olympic rower Kate Allen. They also went to the latest Cirque du Soleil premiere (have I already mentioned this?) and got the red-carpet and after-party treatment. They even got to meet some performers. So from dancers to acrobats to cricketers to rowers to swimmers to Paralympic skiiers, it looks like they're preparaing for all manner of unexpected situations and getting advice on this from all manner of sporting minds. Which is all very valuable indeed. Though what a French-Canadian contortionist dressed like an Amazonian rainforest viper and made up like a drunken Avon protegee turned Kabuki performer has anything to do with it, I'll never know.
"So, girls, when you're running full-pelt down that pitch, you've gotta--"
"You mean 'vault runway'?"
"...That's what I said..."
Image courtesy Ashleigh Brennan and the Victorian Women's High Performance Centre
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Rumour (gosh I hate that word) is that Emma D is getting over an injury in camp and Mel Jones has stepped up to train with the team. Hmmm... this is both a beneficial circumstance and a bad circumstance but I won't say more. Let the gossip boards do that.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Or, more precisely, "Kicking It Old School....Again!"
As Australia's new generation prepares for the Beijing, I found myself cruising YouTube (again in lieu of doing uni work) and came across a few more gems.
AusGymVids posted this little insight into international coaches at the WAIS as the Russian dynasty moved in and Ju Ping Tian's run as WAG head coach was going strong. I was struck by images I'd not seen before, of the Aussie team revelling in success at the World Championships and Olympics of the early 1990's. They were lovely, really, so I found myself compelled to find more footage of the Aussie WAG program in its heydey. Well, below are some bits and bobs, if you can overlook the occasionally biting Welsh commentator ("hefty thighs", well, really!) and the squeaky uneven bars. It seems our 6th placing really stuck it to the competitors, the judges and the crowd. You get a vibe from the commentatress that, "they don't belong here, everybody thinks so", but we really showed the world!
The girls rotate bars and beam at the '91 Worlds here (team optionals). Kylie Shadbolt is so proud of herself, look at that grin!
And here are Julie Anne Monico and Joanna Hughes completing the competition on vault. Watch how jubilant they all are at the very end (including our teeny tiny cheer squad)! *sniffle* Is that Liz C going crazy with the camera!? Awwwwwww....
And just for fun, here's Monique Allen in the '92 Olympics All-Around. A lovely effort (but the less said about the leotard, the better).
What a tremendous legacy. Let's hope the Beijing team can put in a great competition and surprise the world again!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
DJ Sho-Mo got herself an interview at IG, hot on the heels of Georgia's interview; Dasha's latest column reveals a little bit more about training as well.
The girls are gaining themselves some valuable experience and knowledge, and I have full confidence that they'll be mentally AND physically prepared for a good showing in Beijing. They are learning how to relax, focus, and deal with any unexpected situation that arises. Most importantly, they are learning from the experiences of others - not just their teammates but from stage performers and past Olympians (such as Petria Thomas, below) as well.
The team appears to be gelling well, and this of course will be a significant factor in their Beijing performance when the time comes.
Go girls, and keep smiling!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Now the Sydney Morning Herald has included her in a piece about athletes appealing their non-selections.
So let's wait and see how that unfolds. Hopefully it doesn't do much to detract from her training or that of the team itself.
In more positive news, the Herald Sun's pre-Olympics liftout series continues tomorrow, with a piece on "Our Olympic Rookies". So if you can get your hands on it (which I dutifully will of course), have a look for any of the gym team. They're ALL Olympic rookies after all!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Interestingly enough, their reign as KING OF THE OLYMPICS BROADCASTING MOUNTAIN, TAKE THAT CHANNEL 9 YOU TRYHARDS! AND THAT ABC, YOU PEASANTS! THE POWER! THE POWAAAAAAAHHHH! is actually coming to a bit of a bumpy end.
We know that Foxtel's extra channels during the Commonwealth Games had exemplary gymnastics coverage, I hope future CWG's and Olympics bring the same thing. I was most intrigued by this part:
He said the Australian broadcast schedule (for the Olympics) "is always far above what (other) countries generally put to air".
Seven has partnered with SBS, which will be broadcasting the longer form Olympic sports at Beijing, while other Olympic programming will go to Seven's half-owned website Yahoo7.
Hopefully not all the good material will be viewable online only.
After the late-night broadcast efforts of channel 9 during the Melbourne Games, I'm thinking we might get more than the scant look-in at Aussie competitors this year, and at a reasonable hour too (given that the time difference between here and China is not so epic). There was only so much of Liz C's "Well, you can just see so-and-so at the edge of frame/in the background there" I could handle in Athens.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The Age newspaper has revisited the progress of Ashleigh Brennan and swimmer Matthew Targett. For number crunchers and other eagle-eyes, you'll learn in the piece that few to no new skills are being added to her repertoire, she (and I assume the rest of the team) are sticking to repetition and consistent performances with the routines they already have.
If you check out your local newsagent some time soon, there is a soft-cover "guide" to the 2008 Olympic venues and our teams for all sports that had been named at time of printing. The gym team isn't listed, But Dasha Joura is pictured and listed, along with Ashleigh and Lauren Mitchell, as sure bets for a team spot.
Spirit Fingers, everyone! The Aussie WAG team went to the So You Think You Can Dance? live national tour in their down-time when it stopped by Canberra, and met some of the stars after the show. Here they are with Anthony Ikin.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Sister of Canadian Olympian Stella, former commentator, now a WAG coach and choreographer, Stacey has been sassin' up the gymnastics scene from coast to coast here in Oz for more than a decade (two decades?), from the Waverley Gymnastics Centre here in suburban Melbourne to the tropical and topical climates of the Queensland Academy of Sport to the far-flung floor mats of the West Australian Institute of Sport. She not only choreographs routines for some of our top squad members (including, but not limited to, Lauren Mitchell's funk-tacular new routine and Emma Dennis' Chinese ballet-inspired exercise) but she lectures at clubs and institutes on coaching and artistic principles (particularly conditioning, flexibility and dance elements). Oh, and she heads the Creative Movement Group, a dance, physical movement and fitness company that tours around the country educating and working with anyone from schools to sports programs and other dance companies. You can't say she doesn't know her stuff.
I was inches away from Ms Umeh-Lees at Nationals this year, and it took every ounce of courage not to lean over and hug her and shout "YOU FREAKING ROCK!" She moved through the girls, hugging all of them and complimenting them. She is clearly proud of all her charges, either currently competing or retired. She radiates a confident, outgoing and encouraging presence. I believe she's helping prepare the WAG team for Beijing*, and I couldn't think of a better "big sister" for the girls to have working with them.
Good on you Stacey, you're working wonders.
(*Speaking of the team, it has been confirmed by the AOC. Not that we didn't already know who was in it, but still. It's in concrete now. See here and here.)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I resent my job sometimes. Most of the time it's because it holds no regard whatsoever for customer satisfaction or occupational health and safety, but last night I added an extra little mark to my crankypants book - sometimes it makes me miss gym-related things!
Last night I had to head out the door RIGHT before Dasha's floor was to be shown on the Moscow World Cup. So I missed it. And the broadcast itself, as far as I saw it, didn't show Lauren's beam in the rotation before. No wonder I couldn't find it anywhere on Youtube. Thankfully day 2 is being replayed in an hour so at the very least I'll get the rest of the floor rotation.
What an erratic broadcast. For those of you without the joy of cable television or other frivolous things the internet is replacing, allow me to enlighten you.
In between routines or rotations, we will often be treated to a prolonged shot of a random in the audience or just the arena itself. No commentary, no nothing. Once a competitor is finished, the camera man hangs around long enough to capture them hugging their coaches....then taking a drink...then sitting down... then putting their jacket on... then looking up at the scoreboard... then walking over here....then walking over there... then shaking hands with people... then packing up their grips... all before we get to see the instant replay. Then once we get the replay, we're treated to more of Moscow's Funniest Home Videos of Gymnasts' Down-Time. When we got this during men's vault, I found myself shouting "GO BACK TO BEAM! GO BACK TO BEAM!" which all but cemented my reputation as an insane woman. I'm just short a few dozen cats and a cardigan.
As I have established, we will not always get to see all competitors in a rotation. Don't know if this is at the request of Russian producers or organisers. But it really is a let-down. Often, we will be watching a bit of MFHVoGDT when suddenly they'll cut back to the other apparatus (in last night's case, we cut back from men's vault to women's beam) when a routine is already underway. Even Staffan remarks how much of a shame it is that we missed the start of the routine.
The footage quality (in terms of image) is great but the sound quality and editing leaves a lot to be desired. For those who always wanted to know what it's like on the sidelines, the broadcast is helpful (for me, it helped me rekindle my French studies when Raphael Wignanitz talked about his 'deuxieme' vault, his first deemed 'mieux') but ultimately it doesn't do the competition a great deal of justice.
ETA: Speaking of broadcasts, I was told that P-Liddy would be on the radio in SA yesterday. Thankfully ABC Radio has put up a transcript.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
(Not taking into account the dangers of bringe drinking and the poor juxtaposition of an athlete promoting an alcoholic drink and rah rah rah leave all that pontificating to Kevin Rudd).
He waxed lyrical about his expectations for the event, but one particular paragraph struck me. He said words to the effect of, "I read an article the other day where artistic coach Peggy Liddick had ruled out gold and silver for the team, and said they were a chance for bronze. I don't think this is so great; why not go for gold?" If I had the means, I'd respond, "Ben, it's not that they're not going for gold, they certainly will be going all-out for the best result they can. But the fact of the matter is, China and the USA do have the gold and silver team spots all but cemented for themselves. It's been like that since China's resurgence at Worlds in 2006. It's a race for bronze realistically."
And then I'd ruffle his hair, wish him good luck for the Games, and ask where the bar is.
ETA: Ooh! I've come home to discover that the Moscow World Cup is on. But I've only caught the last half hour. Damn. I could see Lauren and Dasha hanging out in the background for bars, but they must have aleady competed. Me and my bad timing! This is a frustrating broadcast though, we just had about 10 minutes of a long-shot of the podium, and scores seem to be taking ages to come up. The camera lingers on competitors getting changed and discussing with their coaches for far too long. And the music, the awful awful awful pop music played over routine replays, blergh!
For those interested (who have Foxtel/Austar), Day 2 is showing tonight at 6pm. If you can stomach the erratic broadcast. You'll see Dasha's floor routine from finals, and hopefully Lauren's beam as well!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
1. The gymnastics podium in Beijing has been changed from vibrant red to blue. I personally didn't mind the red. The blue with all the concrete around just makes it all seem so cold, but understandably red is expected to be 'the' big leotard colour come August, so this change takes care of colour clashing.
2. Ashleigh Brennan has a blink-and-you-might-miss-it spot on a new Channel 7 promotion for the Games. Various athletes are smiling at the camera and moving in slow motion. Ashleigh is in a sleeveless training leotard chalking up her hands and, if the song is anything to go by, she's ready to flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
3. P-Liddy has upped the ante from 'distraction tapes' and is now busting out a seizure-inducing light.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Hopefully the piece will soon be YouTube'd for people who have trouble viewing it on the ninemsn site.
Insert "Awwww..." here.
ABC News have also put up an interview with P-Liddy, who talks about the team's selection process and Olympic medal chances (just try not to get distracted by the girls as they get their photo shoots done in the background!)
"I'm not in the same training squad as Sam but it's awesome having the chance to watch him train and I get some advice from him as well which is great," Savill said.
Australia's artistic national titles may be over but the trampolining national titles are still yet to be decided. Read more about Lachie and Sam's Excellent (and very bouncy) Adventure here.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Oh wait... no, that's the bad seafood basket from dinner at the RSL t'other night. Urrrrgghh....
Anyway. Read more about the team selection days, and the team's preparation in general (better they be sick now than in a month, eh!) in Dasha J's latest article. Good to see the AIS has forked out and stocked a bunch of Janssen-Fritsen (Hanssen Schmitzen Bennson Svendson Jorgen Shmorgan Borgen Hollen Tollen Yodel Bodel) equipment for the team to train on, not just a beam as I first thought. I've been waiting for them do to this, hurrah!
Friday, July 4, 2008
July 1 passed without me realising (with the exception of 'oh yeah, it's the new financial year') that this blog is now 6 MONTHS OLD!
Happy half-birthday, AGB!
Thanks to the people who've sent me, and continue to send me, feedback (particularly those from overseas), it has really meant a lot. I hope you all continue to be entertained and informed by this little page. I've enjoyed doing it and I hope you've all enjoyed reading it. I wouldn't be maintaining it if I didn't have such fun along the way. Since the New Year's Day launch, we've had a great run of events and results with international comps, Nationals and of course Olympic preparation. I hope to keep doing this well into the next competition season and beyond.
So now I have another milestone to celebrate today!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
So THIS is what they meant by "Beijing-themed photo opportunities" at team selection. Nice shot (sorry it turned out small), though it's a shame they couldn't get them in front of silk curtains or something... regardlesss, find a larger version of the pic (click on the one shown at the following link) plus some choice P-Liddy quotes here.
Dad always came to watch my gym comps when I was younger, and of course was there to take photos for posterity (getting chastised more than once for forgetting to turn the flash off the camera). Hugs all 'round, no matter if I came first or last.
Dad in recent years has been very patient when I crack out my gym tapes on a rainy afternoon, and is always humouring me by enquiring about who's who in a competition (Worlds 2006: "Is that Svetlana girl still in it?", Euro's 2008: "Beth Tweddle.... now there's a British name if I ever heard one!") though if I tried to explain the blog, it'd probably do his head in.
So Happy Birthday, Dad! America celebrates when you do, so let's pretend all the red-white-and-blue fireworks are all for you too!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I've been waiting for ages to use that one!
Happy new financial year, everybody.
It seems all the talk this week is about WA's 'veteran' Olivia Vivian.
Some are in the "she needs a big fixer-upper and even then she's not worthy of a team spot" camp. Some are settled in the "she's more than deserving and is an asset to the team" camp. Some people, like me, are starting to uproot ourselves from the muddy marshland of It'saConspiracyAgainstWaverleyLand and pitch tents in the "well, Peggy decided it for reasons we won't know or understand unless we're INSIIIIIDE HER HEEEAAAD LIKE A TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE OR 'BEING JOHN MALKOVICH' AND I LIKED THAT FILM EXCEPT FOR WHEN JOHN MALKOVICH WAS A LADY IN A DRESS BECAUSE THAT WAS JUST CREEPY so it's out of our hands and I'm still happy about the rest of the team and who knows, she might make a good job of it when her big moment comes" camp.
Liv herself discusses her performance at trials in her latest blog here, so draw your opinions about the girl as you will. P-Liddy must have seen something we didn't (or haven't) so let's see what this month's camp will bring.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I don't know if anything made the television news last night because I wasn't home. There was a short mention on the Fox Sports News scrolling bar but I didn't get to see before I left if there was a report.
Thank heavens for the newspapers!
Read about the Vic chicks here and Olivia Vivian's take on selection here. IG gave us a little mention too.
We need more of THIS, people! THIS! *points madly*